The Villa Rossa, designed by Count Mario Gigliucci himself, became the family’s private residence at the time of its completion in 1892. In 1937, the villa was left to Mario’s three children, Nerina, Donatello, and Bona, and 25 years later was sold to Syracuse University, where it has been home to the Syracuse University in Florence program ever since.
19 September 1815: Count Giovanni Battista Gigliucci (1815-1893), Mario’s father, was born in Fermo, Italy on September 19, 1815. Due to the premature death of both his parents, Count Gigliucci was orphaned at the age of nineteen months. By the time he was twenty years old, Giovanni had obtained a sovereign decree declaring him of age to manage his own estates.
Political life: In addition to managing the family’s properties, Giovanni studied law at university, and it was here that he developed his great passion for politics. Influenced by the Risorgimento movement – a strong proponent of a unified Italy free from foreign domination – Giovanni established himself at the local and regional levels of government, reaching the title of senator, which he held until his death in 1893.
10 June 1818: Clara Anastasia Novello (1818-1908), Mario’s mother, was born in London, England, on June 10, 1818. A highly talented soprano singer, it was said that her sweet voice ‘stirred such emotions…to move even the toughest souls.’ At the age of eleven, Clara began studying at the Institution Royale de Musique classique et regligieuse in Paris, France.
Clara’s singing career: Due to the Revolution of 1830, her studies were cut short, and she returned to England where she earned considerable fame and fortune from her singing (The Musical Quarterly referred to her as “one of the greatest singers of her day.”). Her career led to a series of tours, one that brought her to Bologna where she met her husband, Giovanni Battista Gigliucci.
1843: In 1843, Giovanni Battista Gigliucci and Clara Anastasia Novello were married in England. Clara set aside her musical career and the couple moved to the Gigliucci family estate in Fermo, Italy. Between 1844 and 1849, the couple had four children: Giovanni, Mario, Porzia, and Valeria.
1847: On 19 November 1847, Mario Gigliucci (1847-1937) was born to Giovanni and Clara in Fermo, Italy. During his early years, Mario attended military college. In 1866 he cut his studies short to join Garibaldi’s ‘Red Shirts’ in battle against the Austrians (a great adventure, as Mario recalled in his memoirs) and later went on to study at the University of Bologna. From 1873 to 1875 he worked as a mining engineer in Sardinia.
1847: Edith Margaret Mozley (1847-1909) was born in Liverpool, England. Her father, Charles Mozley, was the Jewish Lord Mayor to Liverpool.
November 1849: In 1849 when Mario was two years old, Giovanni and Clara left the family estate in Fermo after it was confiscated by French troops who had taken control of Rome and the Papal States. For the next eleven years, the Gigliucci family moved throughout Europe living on the earnings of Clara’s revived musical career.
1860s: In 1860, Italy was united under the rule of King Victor Emanuel II. After many years of living in exile, Giovanni and Clara returned with their children to Fermo and Giovanni saw his dream of a liberated and unified Italy realized. His sons, Giovanni and Mario, attended military colleges in Turin and Milan and in 1866 Mario joined Garibaldi’s ‘Red Shirts’ in battle against the Austrians.
July 1875: On a trip to the Novello household in England in 1867, Mario met his future wife, Edith Margaret Mozley. They married in July 1875, and had three children: Nerina, Donatello, and Bona.
1879: In 1879, Mario, Edith, and baby Nerina moved to Florence where they rented an apartment in Palazzo Gherardesca with Mario’s older brother Giovanni and his wife Charlotte Sophia Mozley (Edith’s sister). After a few months, Mario and his family moved to a different apartment, this time on Via Garibaldi, and a year later they moved again to an apartment on Via Cherubini where they lived from 1881 to 1886.
1883: Donatello Gigliucci (1883-?) was born in Florence, Italy.
1885: Bona Gigliucci (1885-1981) was born in Florence, Italy.
1892: Construction of Villa Rossa was completed and the family left Villa Romana to settle in their new home just outside the city walls in Piazza Savonarola.
1906: Mario’s father, Count Giovanni Gigliucci, died and was buried in the nearby English Cemetery in Piazzale Donatello next to his wife Clara.
1909: Edith Margaret Mozley, the wife of Mario Gigliucci, passes away and buried in the English Cemetery of Florence.
1937: Mario Gigliucci passed away. Nerina and Donatello left Villa Rossa when they each got married, but Bona, who never married, continued to live in the Villa Rossa until her death in 1981. Pietro Landi (Sergio Landi’s father) is the Gigliucci family’s gardener. Beginning in the 1950s, Sergio helps his father with the gardening.
1959: In the spring of 1959, John Clark Adams, former labor attaché to the US Embassy in Italy and, at the time, a professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University, traveled to Italy to work out the logistics of establishing a study abroad program in Florence, Italy. In September 1959, Villa Rossa opened its doors to the first group of 30 students from Syracuse University. The Gigliucci family rents the first two floors of Villa Rossa to Syracuse University for its newly founded Syracuse Semester in Italy program.
1963: Nerina Gigliucci dies. Her sister, Countess Bona, the last surviving member of the family, sells Villa Rossa to Syracuse University on the condition that she may continue to occupy the top floor and mezzanine level for the remainder of her life.
1964: The SU Fine Arts Graduate Program in Florence is created.
November 4, 1966: The Great Flood of Florence. The city is submerged by up to 22 feet of water after the most devastating flood of its history. Syracuse students participate actively in the arduous task of cleaning up the city and salvaging its damaged treasures.
1979: Studio Arts and photography programs are created under Piero Colacicchi.
1980: The Syracuse University School of Architecture Florence program is created under Randall Korman. The first class consists of 12 students. Studios are located in the Villa Rossa and on Via Santo Spirito, 27.
1981: Countess Bona Gigliucci dies. Syracuse University becomes sole owner and occupant of the Villa Rossa.
Architecture studios move to Donatello, 21.
Art studios move to Fortman Studios.
Elia Landi replaces Augusto at the Villa Rossa cappuccino bar.
1982: The top floor of Villa Rossa is converted into classroom space.
1983: Architecture studios move to Via della Robbia, 46.
1984-87: The Architecture program moves to Via Buonvicini, 15.
Administrative offices occupy the mezzanine level of Villa Rossa.
Art studios move to Donatello, 21.
1988: Studio Arts uses studio space in Santa Reparata.
1990: The Library moves from the basement of Villa Rossa to Via della Robbia, 99.
The Italian department moves from the Villa Rossa to Piazza Savonarola, 10.
Photography moves to Piazza Savonarola, 10.
Classrooms and a “bookshop” are set up in the basement of Villa Rossa.
SU Florence Program Directors
John Adams, Director (1959-1960)
Stephen Koff, Assistant Director (1959-1960)
Franca Toraldo di Francia, Assistant to the Director (1959-1982)
William Fleming, Director (Fall 1960; Spring 1961)
Frederick Jackson, Director (Fall 1962; Spring 1963)
Abraham Veiness, Director (Fall 1963)
John Adams, Director (Spring 1964)
John Adams, Alternating Director (Fall 1964; Spring 1965)
John Adams, Alternating Director (Fall 1965)
Stephen Koff, Alternating Director (Spring 1966)
Stephen Koff, Alternating Director (Fall 1966; Spring 1967)
Ted Denise, Director (Fall 1967; Spring 1968)
Harold Vaughn, Director (Fall 1969; Spring 1970)
Jack Halkett, Director (Fall 1979; Spring 1980)
Thomas McKay, Director (Fall 1980; Spring 1981)
Don Mills, Director (Fall 1981; Spring 1982)
Marshall Segal, Director (Fall 1982; Spring 1983)
Irving Swerdlow, Director (Fall 1983; Spring 1984)
Michael Calo, Director (Fall 1984 through Spring 1987)
Peter Marsh, Director (Fall 1987; Spring 1988)
Lou Roberts, Director (Fall 1988; Spring 1989)
Randall Korman, Director (Fall 1989; Spring 1990)
Michael Good, Director (Fall 1990 through Spring 1996)
Michael Calo, Interim Director (Fall 1996 through Fall 1997)
Alick McLean, Director (Spring 1998 through Spring 2000)
Barbara Deimling, Director (Fall 2000 through Spring 2001)
Don Cortese, Interim Director (Fall 2001)
Barbara Deimling, Director (Spring 2002 through Fall 2009)
Michael Calo, Interim Director (Spring 2010 through Spring 2011)
Sasha Perugini, Director (Fall 2011 to present)